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CH-53 medevac in Leatherneck Square

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  • CH-53 medevac in Leatherneck Square

    Originally posted by sutterwl View Post
    Per 3/3 Command Chronology, on 2Jul68 1705H, M/3/3 was at YD 155700. They had engaged some NVA and suffered 1 US KIA and 4 US WIA. All were medevaced.

    YD 155700 is 3 clicks SW of A-3 and 3 clicks West of Phu Tho. Definitely in the middle of bad guy country and never a secure LZ. Unless the rules changed after I left 3/3/3 in March 68, no H-53 would have been allowed to pick up a medevac at that location. I can hear the "thunk" of the NVA 82mm mortar tubes as I write this.

    The HMH-463 AAR posted looks like a mission(s) primarily along Route 9 between the Rockpile and Khe Sanh.

    Semper fi,

    Wayne Sutter
    Fighting Mad 1 - 4 Actual, Out


    Hi Wayne. TJ here. I was your RO for a couple of ops while you were with 3/3. BTW you are correct on the grid coord.

    I'm sure this CH-53 was not following procedures when he came in to our very hot LZ. I had previously requested and received a medevac for 3 Marines, none emergency. That aircraft was a CH-46. Five minutes later another Marine was hit bad, shot in the upper chest. It was our grenadier, a young guy we called Spaceman, named that because he wore NVA gas goggles on his helmet. I requested an emergency medevac and net control told me the only bird was on it's way out to the hospital ship and it would be 15 minutes. I pleaded that he couldn't last that long and asked him to get a C&C bird or whatever. We went back and forth but no joy. The distinct sound of a CH53 radio transmission came up on the net and offered to call DASC to see about another bird. I thanked him. He came back with the word there was no bird available. By this time I had a tally-ho on the 53 about 3 klicks east of us heading towards Dong Ha. I remembered seeing a 53 maybe 10 minutes earlier heading north with an external, probably for A-3. The 53 called again asking if I'd received his last. I rogered and added, "he's not going to make it then." After about 2 or 3 minutes of silence he came back up and said he was coming in. I directed him in from the SE; that would put a hill between him and the active firefight. His medevac technique was not good. He landed with his nose pointing directly at Spaceman waiting in a shallow crater. A 46 or 34 would have swung around for easy loading and a quick get away, but we weren't complaining. Me and two corpsmen carried Spaceman around to the ramp. The pilot gave Spaceman a thumbs up as we passed his windshield. Then I was surprised to see two guys in flight suits and helmets running around to help us. I'd never seen a medevac crewman leave his bird before. The 53 lifted but went straight out, over the hill and directly over the NVA position. I'd briefed him on the NVA position but he must have forgotten. I tried to get him to turn east but by then green tracers were sparking the bottom of his aircraft, but he made it through and he and his crew saved Spaceman's life.

    I'm sure there are a hundred logical reasons why what that crew did was the wrong decision. But they succeeded and Spaceman, a crazy kid with an M-79 who took one chance too many, went on to finish high school, graduate from college, have a family and become the director of a government agency in Colarado. Now he's retired and a very successful stock trader. And he asked me to try and find that pilot and flight crew and thank them for giving him his life. If anyone reading this can help, Spaceman would really appreciate it.

    We grunts loved medevac crews. The only people we love more are corpsman.

    Semper fi,
    Jeff "TJ" Kelly
    Last edited by 1-4 Mike; 11-13-2011, 10:10.

  • #2
    Re: CH-53 medevac in Leatherneck Square

    TJ, welcome to Popasmoke. Thought you would never find us.

    I looked at all the HMH-463 After Action Reports for July68 on the Texas Tech Archive. They are incomplete, only 20 out of 31 days. The Command Chronology is unreadable in places.

    You will have to rely on someone's 43+ years old memory.

    The 53 pilot was obviously a dilbert who did not get the word. That's where heroes come from!!! So, he probably got his ass chewed out that night. Maybe he will remember the debriefing!!!

    Semper fi

    Fighting Mad 1 - 4 Actual, Out

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: CH-53 medevac in Leatherneck Square

      Originally posted by sutterwl View Post
      TJ, welcome to Popasmoke. Thought you would never find us.

      I looked at all the HMH-463 After Action Reports for July68 on the Texas Tech Archive. They are incomplete, only 20 out of 31 days. The Command Chronology is unreadable in places.

      You will have to rely on someone's 43+ years old memory.

      The 53 pilot was obviously a dilbert who did not get the word. That's where heroes come from!!! So, he probably got his ass chewed out that night. Maybe he will remember the debriefing!!!

      Semper fi

      Fighting Mad 1 - 4 Actual, Out
      Thanks for researching it for me, Wayne. That pilot may not want to own up to it but after 43 years maybe he'd like to know that his brave (and unwise) action saved a good man who when on to a good life.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: CH-53 medevac in Leatherneck Square

        I've got two full sets of CDs sent to me by the Naval Records Center.

        I'm pretty sure that is what the TT folks worked from. I don't use the TT
        site much, as I find it quite difficult to navigate. I rely on my own private
        copies of the CDs.

        I've looked on them and only found one "official" medevac, the one displayed
        in post: http://www.popasmoke.com/notam2/show...4423#post34423

        Maybe the fact that it was an unauthorized (i.e. illegal) one, the records "got lost".

        You know ..... the old CYA syndrome and someone protecting their career.

        We might just have to rely on that 43+ year memory thingy.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: CH-53 medevac in Leatherneck Square

          Originally posted by Mike Amtower View Post
          I've got two full sets of CDs sent to me by the Naval Records Center.

          I'm pretty sure that is what the TT folks worked from. I don't use the TT
          site much, as I find it quite difficult to navigate. I rely on my own private
          copies of the CDs.

          I've looked on them and only found one "official" medevac, the one displayed
          in post: http://www.popasmoke.com/notam2/show...4423#post34423

          Maybe the fact that it was an unauthorized (i.e. illegal) one, the records "got lost".

          You know ..... the old CYA syndrome and someone protecting their career.

          We might just have to rely on that 43+ year memory thingy.
          Thanks for the info Mike. I'm not surprised there is no paper trail on that medevac. It sure was damn nice of him to save that kid's life.

          Comment

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